Julie Rubaud’s Red Wagon Plants is named the 2019 Vermont Woman-Owned Business of the Year by the Small Business Administration for its financial success, expansion and community involvement. Located on Shelburne Falls Road, the nursery grows and sells a variety of plants and flowers year-round.
Rubaud grew up in a home with vegetable gardens and a greenhouse, so she said it was only natural that she would pursue gardening as a career.
She started Red Wagon Plants in 2005 as a seasonal business, open from April to June. When it began, it consisted of three small greenhouses and she only sold wholesale to a select clientele in 2007, when she began retailing, her business started taking off. Annual sales have increased by an average of 14 percent each year.
Today the business has 25 seasonal employees, nine greenhouses, and sells year-round. Rubaud says she is very fortunate in that many of her employees return to Red Wagon Plants year after year, a trait not commonly associated with seasonal work.
“Red Wagon is known as a place that pays well and has a fun, family-like work environment,” said Rubaud. “The mission of the business is to help people succeed in the garden as well as to help employees succeed in their work lives.”
Continued growth is part of her long-term vision. Rubaud was recently selected to participate in the Small Business Administration’s 2019 Emerging Leaders Program, a free class for small business owners. During the seven-month program, she will create a three-year strategic growth plan to help reach those goals.
A new addition to Red Wagon Plants is a classroom built inside one of the greenhouses to conduct a variety of workshops.
Throughout the years, the business has made significant financial and in-kind contributions to a number of organizations, including the Shelburne Community School PTO, Burlington Area Community Garden Network and the Vermont Community Garden Network.
Red Wagon Plants and other small business award winners will be presented their awards during the 2019 Vermont Small Business Awards Ceremony in June.